Posted by: HamptonIona | December 5, 2010

Convent Update

This is an update on the current situation on the Soeur de la Visitation Convent.   There has been little update from City Hall since late-November when the project was recommended by the Planning Committee and approved by Council.  The Planning Committee recommended the project and Council approved it, but there were several changes made by Council to Ashcroft’s planned development.  The key changes are:

  1. The City has turned down Ashcroft’s request (and Planning Staff’s recommendation) that a new access road be built through the Byron Park to connect the southern side of the site to Byron Avenue.
  2. The City will be taking approximately 1/2 acre of property on the south side of the site as parkland.  All developments are required to put up parkland or cash-in-lieu of parkland regardless of the size. Typically there is no land available so the developer pays cash-in-lieu.  In this case, the City turned down Ashcroft’s plan to put up the cash and will be taking land instead.
  3. The City has frozen the path along the east side of the property.  Ashcroft had proposed a walking/cycling link along this part of the property.  The City’s act will freeze this land from future development and will not be part of the City’s proposed park on the site (so it will be additional green space).
  4. The City has proposed to buy approximately 1 1/2-2 acres on the south side of the property for parkland.  If Ashcroft does not agree or cannot reach a agreeable price with the City, the City can expropriate but Ashcroft can take the City to the OMB to decide on what is a fair price.
  5. Between the land being purchased and that being taken as parkland, Ashcroft would only be able to build their 9-storey building on the south and the 9-storey building along Richmond Road.   The rest of the land south of the convent would be out of their hands.

In order for the City to purchase the parkland from Ashcroft, they will have to find the money.  Part of the money would come from the Cash-in-Lieu of Parkland fund that has been building up specifically for the Kitchissippi Ward and possibly development charges.  The rest of the money will have to be found.  The Planning Committee proposed a special levy on all residents of Kitchissippi.  Until the final price of the land is known it is not possible to determine what this levy will amount to.  A rough calculation done by the chair of the Committee was approximately $4/yr for 20 years per household based on every household in Kitchissippi being charged and the land being worth roughly $3 mln.  The City has until March 31, 2011 to determine how it will purchase the land and how it will pay.

At this point in time, no further information is known.

Hampton Iona, Westboro, Island Park and Wellington Village community associations will be meeting with Councillor Hobbs and the City to gain greater clarity.  In particular we want i) an update on the status of discussions with Ashcroft including the status of their OMB challenge; ii) information on whether Ashcroft has modified their building proposal given the Council-imposed restrictions on development; iii) to review different potential funding models for the purchase of the land;  iv) to determine when the community groups must file any appeal to the OMB; and v) Request that the site-plan approval that is automaticaly delegated to staff, be lifted so that the site-plan requires councillor approval.

If the land purchase does not go through, Ashcroft will be able to build on any land not purchased/taken by the City for parkland.  If the community groups object to what may be developed on the site, we don’t know if we have submit an OMB appeal within the next few days or whether we have until early April (after the City determines its final position on the parkland).  We are seeking clarity from City Hall on this question.  Filing an appeal involves submitting a form and paying $125.  Any organization appealing does have the right to withdraw their appeal at a future date but if you don’t file within the deadline, who can’t file later.

Currently Ashcroft still has an appeal against the City in place in which they are requesting 12-stories along Richmond Road.  While they claimed that they would only go to 9 stories, that may have been predicated on them getting their full development approved.  WIth the restrictions imposed by Council, they may try to build 12 stories along Richmond Road.  At this time, we don’t know.  If Ashcroft’s appeal goes through, the Community Groups will likely appear as witnesses.

The community’s view on whether we should file with the OMB at this time (if we need to file now) are sought.  Please keep in mind if we ultimately take the City to the OMB, to mount an effective battle would be costly.  We will need at least a professional planner to give testimony.  A development lawyer would also be extremely helpful with very expensive.  We look forward to your comments and thoughts.


  1. Thank you for this update. As somebody who cannot dedicate a huge amount of time to this issue, I am very grateful for the information I have found on the HICG website. I feel that without it, I would not have been able to make an informed comment. Please keep up the good work!

    I am wondering if we know whether the 1/2 acre on the southern boundary of the property will include enough land to preserve the beautiful willow tree growing on the SW corner of the property?

    Thanks again!

  2. I also very much appreciate the update. After all the activity around the planning meetings, it feels that we are in limbo right now. I’m very interested to see how Councillor Hobbs is planning to deal with this. I hope she will have the same drive and enthusiasm to help the community that Christine Leadman did. Anyone that I have talked to on Kensington is more than happy to pay the levy to secure the property.
    Please continue the good work of keeping us up to date as things progress. Are there steps we should be taking with the new city council?

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